Food for thought

In the true spirit of the month, here’s a worthy initiative that salvages leftover food Discuss this article

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When you’re used to dining on all-you-can-eat buffets and spending weekends hoovering up course after course at brunch, it can sometimes do you good to think about the amount of food that must get wasted here in Doha. But where does it all go? Due to strict rules on leftovers, much of it is thrown away. But surely there’s a better way?

Enter Wa’hab – a private, self-funded start-up that provides a network connecting surplus, but perfectly good, food that is meant to be thrown away from food industries and hotels to those who need it.

It’s not all doom, gloom and wastage in Doha. In the past we’ve seen initiatives whereby restaurants serve free meals to those who can’t afford it and with this new proposition, Doha’s less fortunate are about to receive more than before.

“We have a collective responsibility towards the community, especially when it comes to a basic need like food,” Wardah Mamukoya, founder and chief operating officer of Wa’hab tells Time Out. “The less privileged can benefit from good food that is excess. There was an absence of a network that connects this food to those who could consume it, but we realised there was a way can easily rescue and reroute this surplus food.” Other members of Wa’hab include Alanood Abdulaziz Jassim Al-Thani (chief executive officer), Ramees Muhammed Kakkodan (chief technology officer and expert in food handling and safety), Kim Wyatt (chief information officer) and Shahid Abdusalam (chief financial officer).

Using technology and social media as their power tools, the team at Wa’hab promotes the highest use of excess food to reduce hunger and wastage. Wyatt says: “Social media is a very constructive tool to reach out to the public and encourage discussions and interaction. We are very active on social media and constantly provide updates on progress alongside other tips and information.”

In the long term, the team is looking for investment to increase its ability to recover more food and to launch educational campaigns to increase awareness of sustainability and waste management.

At the moment, once Wa’hab collects the food it drops it off at partner charities who make sure the food is fit for consumption and can repackage if necessary.

“Currently, there are a few food banks operated by various charities,” Wyatt says. “However, in the long term we want to establish our own food bank or logistical hub where anyone can drop off non-perishable items as well as fresh foods, fruits and vegetables.”

Mamukoya says they are working with a few restaurants who donate their excess food and then they take it from there. “As this number grows, we will require volunteers to help us collect, pack and distribute the donations.

“The majority of low-income workers live in labour camps and stand to benefit from the donated food. They can then save their money and channel it towards bettering their family circumstances in their home countries, which is the primary reason they are here.”

Wyatt adds: “We’re very proud of our growing volunteer group – we call them our Wa’hab Food Heroes. It is all about teamwork and creating a friendly, welcoming environment where people are encouraged to get involved with us.”
To find out more and how you can get involved, visit www.wahab.qa.

By Shereen D’Souza
Time Out Doha,

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